Piano Love Songs That Will Melt Your Heart Away

Pianist Katya Grineva . PHOTO | COURTESY
Pianist Katya Grineva . PHOTO | COURTESY  

A highly acclaimed classical pianist will perform in Nairobi next week at two benefit concerts for a project that has transformed the lives of children from the less privileged neighbourhoods of the city.

Katya Grineva, a Russian pianist who lives in the US, will play romantic piano music in Nairobi with theme “Love, Fire and Water”.

The proceeds from the two concerts will go towards the Ghetto Classics Programme, a music education and training project based in the Korogocho slums that has so far supported more than 700 children.

The first event takes place at the Oshwal Auditorium next Monday, followed by a second concert on Saturday June 17 at the Tribe Hotel.

Grineva is familiar with the Oshwal Auditorium because she played at the same venue in 2010 at another benefit concert organised by the Russian Embassy in Nairobi.

Born in Moscow, Grineva began playing piano at the age of five by accident.

At the age of 15, she joined the Moscow Conservatory and studied with Prof Pavel Messner who was one of the best musicians in Russia at the time.

Grineva was given the opportunity to play at the Conservatory’s concert hall where she gave recitals and began to explore what she describes as the “spontaneous interaction between artist and audience”

In 1989, she moved to the US as a teenager with a dream of studying music and playing at the world famous Carnegie Hall.

The dream came to pass as she received a scholarship to enrol at the Mannes School of Music in New York. Her first American concert was in 1993 and her debut show at the Carnegie in 1998. Since then she has made no less than 16 solo appearances at the prestigious venue in New York.

She has performed throughout the US, Europe, South America, Asia and Africa.

Many of her performances around the world include benefit concerts in countries like Ecuador and the Philippines where she was honoured with a presidential peace prize in 2006.

Favourite composers

The proceeds from her piano recital in 2010 supported the Ramoma Museum of Art in Nairobi. Her legacy as a musician, she says, is to be remembered for being able to touch people’s lives “with a full heart.”

Since 1998, the world’s leading piano manufacturer Steinway and Sons has awarded Grineva the honourable title of Steinway Artist.

Her career also includes no less than seven CDs of romantic repertoire, which showcase her strength in taking music from different composers and interpreting the songs through her own style.

The latest album is “Soiree-French Masterpieces”, recorded jointly with cellist Byron Duckwall.

Both musicians performed at the Carnegie Hall in September 2016 to celebrate the album’s release.

The repertoire for the Oshwal concert is just over one hour and features classical pieces from the great composers of romantic piano.

These include Sergei Rachmaninoff’s 18th variation of the “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” for solo piano and “Sonata in A Minor” by Wolfgang Mozart in three movements.

Grineva will also play Claude Debussy’s major piano work, “Arabesque no. 1” and two pieces from Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons”: “June” and “Song of the Autumn (October)”.

The works of some of her favourite composers like Schubert, Ravel, Chopin, Satie and Ravel also appear on the program.

The concert at the Tribe Hotel will feature the aforementioned pieces along with all three movements of Beethoven’s “Piano Sonata no. 14 “ popularly known as the “Moonlight Sonata.”

The audience will also get to watch Grineva perform one of her favourite pieces, Marcel Tyberg’s “Legende” which appears on her DVD “Live in Singapore”.

Tyberg was an accomplished composer, conductor and pianist Austrian pianist who was killed during the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.

In 2006, Grineva was selected to exclusively perform and record the world premieres of piano sonatas by Tyberg with the support of the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies.